Dainty, tender rib chops command the kind of prices that put them in the special-occasion category. But don’t overlook the cuts from the shoulder, which also deliver big on flavor for a fraction of the price. These chops are plenty tender with no more than a seasoning of salt and pepper and quick sear. A colorful, tangy mango salsa deliciously balances the richness of the meat. Round out the meal with quick-cooking Moroccan couscous. RECIPE HERE. Serves 4. – Susan Puckett
2 medium ripe (but not mushy) mango, diced (about 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
½ cup chopped red onion
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
Lamb and Asparagus:
4 lamb shoulder chops, trimmed and patted dry with paper towels
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound asparagus, trimmed of woody ends
Hot couscous for serving, optional
- Prepare the salsa: In a medium bowl combine the mango, bell pepper, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (May be made up to 4 hours ahead of time.)
- Season both sides of the lamb chops with about 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
- Place a large, heavy skillet on the stove and turn the heat on to medium high. Add the oil, swirling the pan to coat the bottom, and heat until it shimmers.
- Add the lamb to the skillet and cook, turning once, until the exterior is nicely browned, about 3 minutes per side for medium -rare and 4 to 5 minutes for medium-well.
- Transfer the lamb to a plate, then add the asparagus to the hot skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until bright green, lightly charred, and tender-crisp, about 3 or 4 minutes.
- Serve the lamb chops and asparagus with the mango salsa and couscous.
Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.